Is An RV Extended Warranty Right For You? Pros And Cons List

RV Extended Warranty

In this article, I will cover everything related to extended warranties for your camper, coach, motorhome, fifth wheel, travel trailer, or any type of RV extended warranty.

So we will not cover in general the extended warranties for any kind of vehicle, but only about the RV extended warranty, that is somewhat different than the extended warranties available for other types of vehicles.

We will see first what is an RV extended warranty, why would you require to contract one of these in the first place. We will study what does one of these contracts cover, and navigate through some considerations to think about when choosing an RV extended warranty and the ever-popular question if do we think it is actually worth it.

Here we will navigate headfirst into extended warranties for RVs in particular because they are different than extended warranties for other types of vehicles.

We will pick apart the who and what of an RV extended warranty, we will highlight the pros and cons. We will also compare an RV extended warranty with RV insurance cover, because they have some similarities,  and provide a few tips on what to look for in an RV extended warranty purchase if you need it, and how to get the most out of it.

What is An RV Extended Warranty?

Readers of this website are experienced RVers, so I know that the immense majority of you already know what a warranty is and what an RV extended warranty would cover, but just so everyone is on the same boat here, we will define it properly.

An RV extended warranty is a service contract, the coverage that you can purchase for a certified pre-owned RV or a brand-new RV that goes beyond the ordinary service coverage furnished by the RV manufacturer covering any defects or anything that breaks on your RV that is not caused by an accident.

Basically, an RV extended warranty is an additional warranty besides the original warranty that you are entitled to claim from your dealer when you purchase the RV.

It can be from the dealer, from a third party, or from the manufacturer. Each company will have different policies regarding second-hand vehicles, the age and condition of the RV at the time of the warranty purchase, the mileage and so forth.  You should hope to clearly understand each company’s basic policies.

An RV extended warranty is similar to insurance (not the same) against repairs and mechanical failures and faults. You pay initially for the warranty in exchange for passing off a large cost when something occurs and needs to be repaired, within the warranty period.

If you are handy with a camper, travel trailer, or a motorhome, you may feel confident enough to forego such an expense and do it yourself, but as mechanics get more computerized and progressively more intricate, very often you need a specific part only available from your dealership mechanic.

An RV extended warranty will most likely be offered to you at the time of purchasing your camper or travel trailer from the dealership. It can also be offered once your initial warranty has expired or not offered at all, and it is up to you to seek one out.

It is a prolonged warranty in addition to the standard cover that you will receive. For example, your RV extended warranty may be an additional two years on top of the standard one year warranty, giving you three years of warranty at your dealership. Do note that your extended coverage may be different from the initial first-year warranty.

Why Would You Want An RV Extended Warranty? Avoiding Risks And Peace Of Mind 

So why would you want an RV extended warranty? The answer is, to provide you peace of mind and tranquility if you are like us. From our experience, we found that things will continue to break on your RV past the one or two-year manufacturer warranty that your recreational vehicle has included when purchased.

You do not have to allocate a segment in your budget forecast for prospective repairs in your RV. You do not have the risk of having variances in your actual budget in comparison to your forecast. Just consider in your cash flow, that you will first pay for these repairs and you will be reimbursed by the warrantor or his agent afterward.

If you do not have this RV extended warranty those expenses will be on your charge. That is why I say that the RV extended warranty, provides you that peace of mind, certainty to your budget forecast, and allows you to know that you are not going to have big items that may break on your RV later on in the road that you are responsible for.

When To Buy The Extended Warranty? Before Or After Purchasing The RV?

We ended up buying our RV extended warranty right when we purchased an RV brand new from the dealership.

In this case, you are able to even roll it into the RV financing loan rather than having to pay for it upfront. This was really nice for us.

If you decide not to go with an RV extended warranty at the time of purchasing your camper, the opposite of what we did, you can come back to the dealership and avoid going through the certification process. This can be done if you are still within the timeframe of your RV manufacturer’s warranty.

Therefore, within that timeframe, you just walk right in “hey, I didn’t buy this when I sign the paperwork but I want it now”. Probably you may pay a bit more than if you purchase this RV extended warranty along with the RV itself.

If instead, you are beyond your manufacturer’s warranty or you want to return to the dealership once the warranty of the manufacturer has expired, you must surely undergo an RV inspection to prove that there are no relevant pre-existing conditions and that you are eligible to apply for an RV extended warranty coverage.

rv extended warranty

What Do Extended Warranties Actually Cover For An RV? Contract Clauses and Small Print Restrictions  

An RV extended warranty covers the beneficiary of the warranty for workmanship defects or manufacturing defects that happen beyond the timeframe allotted in the original manufacturer’s warranty timeframe.

One of the major questions you should be asking the salesperson, agent, or whoever is helping you out to select a convenient RV extended warranty, is what does the warranty actually covers. Do not just assume that chassis coverage is also included, that the underbody is covered, that axle system is covered, or that tire and repair are always covered.

What the warranty contract provides you as a right for you, can be clearly restrained in the small print thereafter. So just do not assume anything and always ask what does this RV extended warranty actually covers.

What these extended warranties normally do not cover, is any sort of cosmetic damage suffered by the RV, as the ones caused by tree limbs scratching up your vinyl stickers on the side of accidents. For example, if you were backing into a site and you ran the rear end of the RV into a pole, well, they are not covered by the warranty either. For those damages and coverages, you require an RV insurance.

Likewise, an RV extended warranty will not cover any sort of neglectful damage. Thus, if you have a problem with your wheel hub bearings, but they notice that you have not performed the routine maintenance to keep those parts in good working order, they might not cover that then either. They will not cover it, because that is obviously not a manufacturing or workmanship defect: that is just plain neglect.

Nevertheless, these RV extended warranty plans will vary from dealership to dealership depending on the RV model and the partnerships that they have with third parties that provide the warranty protection. Also, the region influences these warranty plans: just like RV insurance changes from state to state to state, these extended warranty services will also change their coverages depending on where you buy them within the United States as well.

Costs Of The RV Extended Warranties

So now let’s talk about costs because we have discussed above what the scope of coverage of an RV extended warranty.

The option of the maximum protection is to purchase two smaller extended warranties packages: one for the actual RV itself, and the other extended warranty, was a tire and wheel warranty since usually it is depicted in the fine print that tires and wheels are not going to be covered within the normal RV extended warranty.

So this is the maximum protection: Purchase both RV extended warranty packages just to ensure that everything is properly covered.

The cost of this maximum protection described encompasses around a couple of thousand dollars which you may be thinking is pretty expensive. However, this compensates easily the coverage during that extensive timeframe if you are doing full-time RVing.

I purchased also this double RV extended warranty and in my case, it was very helpful. We ended up finding out that we did have an axle issue that was causing all of our tires to get bubbles blowout. We had to replace all of our leaf springs and our equalizer also had issues, all because of this one axle problem.

Therefore, we have ended up spending a large quantity of our own family money before we remembered we had purchased this RV extended warranty. Luckily we were able to get reimbursed (the majority of these expenses) and now we have them pay for most repairs that would have been a lot of money coming out of our own pocket.

I can say that they are completely worth it. It is not just a peace of mind, it is almost like an RV insurance for when problems happen along the road because they are going to happen.

Availability Of Nationwide Coverage With Associated Repair Facilities

Another valuable aspect that you require to be aware of, are the locations and the repair facilities.  You want to hopefully find a plan that is nationwide coverage, meaning that you can take it to any repair shop no matter the state and no matter to whom does the repair facility belongs to.

This is because the last thing you want is to be completely across the country when something goes wrong and a breakdown occurs and you have to utilize the services of a provider from your local dealership or in that surrounding area. Therefore, definitely ensure beforehand, that your RV extended warranty has nationwide coverage and that you always know where you can get your RV repaired in the area or state that you are currently RVing.

Reimbursement Of Repair Expenses in RV Extended Warranties: How Does It Work?

After the signature of the RV extended warranty, starts the execution of the contract and you have to know how to proceed during the validity timeframe of that agreement (iter contractus).

The most important aspect to consider during the lifecycle of the extended warranty is how the approval process of repair expenses works.

In the most typical contract clauses, the repair shop associated with the warrantor has to perform an assessment first in the paper. After this, the repair shop or you, will contact the warrantor or his agent and obtain his approval before the selected repair shop performs any repairs.

But the bad thing that happened to one of the readers that wrote us, is that they called in and tried to get approval after the repairs are performed and paid for. That just elongates the process before they get reimbursed and they potentially do not even have to reimburse thems because it was stated specifically in their plan (he refers to the warranty contract) that they have to get pre-approval and have the shop call on the number.

They did not realize that at first and they had just been paying for a lot of the repairs (in an axle) and sending receipts hoping they would be able to get reimbursed and luckily. Well, it happened that their warranty program did reimburse them because they were able to prove the claimed defects, or because the warrantor just wanted to do it. Honestly, they could have denied the payment to this person, because they were not following the obligations from the agreement that they had understood well and signed.

So to avoid this error, be aware of how to obtain the green light for repairs, perform the repairs only after approval from the warrantor, and ensure you keep invoices and receipts as evidence to show to the warrantor to retrieve a timely reimbursement as one of your rights in the RV extended warranty contract.

So you obtain approval from the warrantor for the repair, the warranty work is performed, you pay it, and then it is reimbursed by the warrantor due to the extended warranty.

Are There Deductibles in Your Extended Warranty? Check Before Buying

Another feature to scrutiny in an RV extended warranty is if there deductibles or not. Because just like car insurance some of these extended warranty programs have deductibles that you have to pay upfront to the shop before they can do any of these repairs.

Therefore, that is just something to be aware of, for sure. Because you do not want to stroll in and expect to just have everything taken care of and they are suddenly addressing you and saying like “oh well we need a $500 deductible from you before we can even look at the REV”.

Deductibles are not a make-or-break deal. Here it just needs to be a number that you are comfortable with because you are probably going to be using this RV extended warranty more than once, and even more if you are in a full-time RVing. Ensure that you know how much you are going to have to pay if you have to pay at all.

Are Extended Warranties Transferable?

Bring into consideration if your warranty plan is transferable, in case you decide to sell your RV or your fifth wheel and you want the RV extended warranty to cover the new buyer.

In the contract you have to read of it is transferable to a third party or not, and if you have to pay a fee to enable the ability to transfer the contract to your buyer.

In my case, I was able to transfer the contract with the sale of the RV in exchange for a small fee, to the new buyer. This is really helpful because our plan was a seven-year warranty plan and we have only utilized two of those years and there were five years of coverage remaining.

This advantage adds a feature we can give the prospective buyer and makes the RV extended warranty much more appealing for the warranty.

If you do have a pre-owned motorhome, camper, travel trailer, fifth wheel, teardrop, any type of recreational vehicle and you do not have an RV extended warranty, and after reading this article, you are interested in one, do not despair.

As long as your RV is within 8, 10, or 11 years old (depending on the company), you can actually take it to any place that does inspection certifications on pre-owned coaches. There you have your RV inspected and certified. The certification ensures that there are no pre-existing conditions that require addressing first. They will certify it and then you can get an RV extended warranty on your pre-owned unit.

Differences Between RV Extended Warranty And RV Insurance

It is important to know, first of all, that you should not attempt to fill in any gaps in your insurance policy with your RV extended warranty contract. There are differences between RV insurance and an RV warranty in general, and an RV extended warranty in particular.

RV insurance and RV warranties can be considered as the opposite of one another. Having both provides a full range of mechanical repair cover. Insurance is designed to cover repairs that are needed in the event of a collision, when vandalism or theft occurs or when any damage is caused by the weather. On the other hand, RV warranties cover the costs of mechanical failures as long as they were not the result of the weather, collision or vandalism.

Other notes to point is that an extended warranty can be agreed upon for quite a significant amount of time, sometimes more than 5 years, whereas insurance needs to be renewed more often. Insurance is provided by many brokers and companies and can be amalgamated with existing packages in order to save money. It is somewhat regulated as the competition for customers is huge. Warranties are only provided by dealers and some third party companies and the differences in prices can be extreme.

It is compulsory by law in many states to have minimum liability insurance at the very least, and you can budget at your choice as to whether you enjoy small premiums with the risk of a high deductible. However, it is entirely up to you whether you indulge in an extended warranty or not.

So as we have laid out here, not all warranty providers are created equal. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when considering purchasing your extended warranty.

Although it is easy to get drawn in when your dealer takes you through his paces, take a step back and look at who the administrator of the warranty will be. Small companies will potentially be understaffed during the RV season when you need them most, resulting in long waiting times and potentially miscommunications. However, the larger the company, the more claims there will be. Take into consideration the reputation of the administrator before getting on board.

There are two types of extended warranty coverage that you should consider. Exclusionary policy and listed component policy. An exclusionary policy is generally the easiest to understand and the most comprehensive. You are specifically told what is not covered in your warranty, which is more often sought after and comes with a higher cost. Listed component coverage states what is covered. If the item isn’t on the list, then it isn’t covered.

Pros Of RV Extended Warranties

According to the APA (Automobile Protection Association), it is a good idea to purchase an extended warranty if items likely to break down within the warranty period are covered in the warranty. Of course, a warranty is a good idea if you use the damn thing and maybe even a couple of times. No one wants to think about their new RV breaking down but it is better to be safe than sorry. So why would you purchase an additional warranty?

As I said above, those who are handy around an automobile may be tempted to pass on off paying extra for an additional warranty as they feel confident in sorting out the problem for themselves. In newer models, in particular, many faults are of a more technical nature, one that can only be repaired from the dealership mechanic. I myself have been caught off guard as my general mechanic was unable to fix a specific computerized component of my car:  I needed to take it to the dealer at my costly expense.

The biggest pro I feel is peace of mind. And that is enough for many folks. Do you have a few thousand tucked away for an emergency? Will a repair break the bank? Ruin a holiday? Leave you stranded somewhere and cost you not only repair costs but also additional expenses of accommodation, alternative travel, not to mention time and stress? Trip interruption insurance can sure help with these worries.

Another factor to consider is raising prices. As time goes on, parts and repairs cost more and more, but you will not be expected to pay for more after you have signed your contract. Resale factors are also positive, should after a few years that be an option for you.

Cons of RV Extended Warranties

Do not expect an RV extended warranty to cover things such as:

  • Regular maintenance items.
  • Pre-existing defects. This means repairs that needed to be done before the contract was signed, sealed and delivered. Make sure that if you are buying an RV extended warranty after the expiry of your initial warranty (or just before it is due to expire), then service your RV so that any pre-existing repairs are completed.
  • To be an addition to your insurance. Insurance generally protects against damages caused by collisions, fire, theft or vandalism. A warranty covers mechanical failures. You generally will not be able to combine the two, as clauses will be in a place that excludes on the condition to another.
  • To cover rust, corrosion, dents or an RV in a poorly maintained condition. There may be some sort of rust protection but in new RVs, this is generally not used and again, once there is rust it is null and void in general.
  • Very old RVs. Potentially an RV older than 15 years will have some trouble with obtaining a comprehensive RV extended warranty.
  • RVs with too much mileage. Over approximately 80,000 miles, it is difficult to obtain a proper RV extended warranty. Your mileage will vary, but these warranties will not be furnished to RVs with these numbers.

Obviously, extended warranties have massive inbuilt gains for the dealers and warranty companies. As a buyer, it is sometimes hard to swallow the costs just for peace of mind or a ‘maybe’. Take some time in considering the pros and cons of an extended warranty and remember that you do not need to take the first that you are offered. Shop around and do not succumb to the initial pressure.

Involved Parties In An RV Extended Warranty Contract

The seller: Is the company that I just spoke about above. They offer you your contract and you deal with them regarding questions on the contract and they collect from you the fee. This could be the original dealer, another company or the manufacturer.

The administrator: Is the company that makes the decision on whether your claim is covered or not covered and pays the claim if so. These guys take the biggest chunk of the fee that you have paid and putting it into a ‘claims reserve account’.

Warrantor: These guys are responsible for ensuring the claims are paid out if the administrator was to become insolvent. It is up to you to double-check that the insurance company in your contract that is backing your ‘claims reserve account’ is stable. You should understand from the get-go that an RV extended warranty is not the same as any RV insurance.

The Repair Service: Is the company where any repairs are completed. Estimated costs are submitted to the administrator for approval before they undergo any work.

RV Extended Warranty Contracts: Conclusions

The last thing anyone needs is to go out on a limb, purchase an RV only to have unexpected repair costs ruin your holiday a few months after the dealership warranty expires. Of course, regular maintenance and care for your RV and in your driving goes a long way in keeping your RV at optimum performance, but accidents happen, wear and tear is inevitable and of course, what are warranties for if not to cover for this?

So, of course, buying an RV extended warranty is not at all mandatory. This is entirely your choice and you need to educate yourself and decide whether it is worth it for you.

Buying an RV can be an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking period. For many it is a dream come true, to pack up and escape the regular day to day life. To exploring the beauty of the national parks and create a slice of nature your own backyard, but with the added bonus of the comforts of home in your own back seat. But you are investing a lot of hard-earned cash into this venture, and like anything, things can go awry. How common is Murphy’s Law; the moment you decide to throw away the box and warranty for that not-so-new kettle anymore, does it burn out?

So hopefully, an extended warranty on your RV has become now a little clearer. Take into consideration the difference between an RV insurance and a warranty and decide according to your preferences whether an RV extended warranty is for you.

Anthony Foxx

I am Tony, an RV designer and RV developer. I create bill of materials for RV manufacturers for travel trailers and fifth wheels. I worked as a freelance transportation consultant for Lyft. As an RV development consultant, I create customization trees for RV manufacturers who want to offer a solution to prospective customers to design their custom RV with variant configuration. Apart from this, I sell in Indiana trailer hitches, hitch balls, goosenecks and weight distribution systems where I provide advice to customers who want to know which is their towing capacity, which hitch ball should they utilize and how to deploy a weight distribution system. I do my best to explain all these processes and their installation, here in RV Favorites.